Net Metering: AirBnB Meets Utilities

Net metering, or the billing mechanism by which individual and business owner renewable-energy generators may sell excess electricity back to the grid, is straightforward in concept, and yet it’s a political hot button in states across the country.  If we’re going to move into a new era of built environments acting in symbiosis with their natural counterparts, as groups like the International Living Futures hope, we as a species need to move towards a more agile, responsive, resilient infrastructure.  Yet the utilities we have in place right now represent monolithic and almost unfathomably large entities, essentially economic and resource monopolies.  So how do we evolve?

Here in Michigan, the next step in the legislative process are a series of bills currently under discussion in Lansing known collectively as the Michigan First Energy Policy.  These proposed measures (Senate Bills 437 & 438 and House Bills 4297 & 4298) address net metering as a broader effort to continue the renewable energy initiatives begun in 2008 and ending in 2015.

For additional information about net metering, you can check out these legislative resources:
– Washtenaw County Systems Planning
– Michigan Public Service Commission, and search “net metering”
– Energy Information Administration
– U.S. Department of Energy

You can also check out these utility and advocacy organizations:
– Ecology Center
– DTE Energy
– Clean Energy Coalition
– Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association
– Green Builder Media

And finally, to learn the most accurate and up-to-date information and to register your opinions with the folks who matter, I encourage you to contact your elected representatives.  For the Ann Arbor area, that’s these fine folks (with special gratitude to Sen. Warren for her generous assistance in preparing for this workshop):
– Sen. Rebekah Warren,
– Rep. Gretchen Driskell,
– Rep. Jeff Irwin,
– Rep. Adam Zemke,

Net metering is the focus of this month’s Building Matters Workshop.  For more information about these workshops and to put the next one on your calendar, check out Ann Arbor Architecture on Facebook.

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